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Local News

Goleta Design Board Still Not Sold on Bacara Condo Proposal

Latest plans include earth-tone structures that recede into hillside, but agency balks and postpones a decision.

The Goleta Design Review Board on Tuesday again continued its review of Bacara Resort & Spa’s proposed hotel condominiums. The meeting was one in a series of steps the resort and the city are taking toward the possible construction of the controversial project.

Bacara’s current plans include nine buildings housing 55 units ranging from 2,300 to 2,800 square feet each. The project, to be located near Haskell’s Beach on the east side of the Bacara complex, 8301 Hollister Ave., entails moving the existing public parking lot to the northeast corner of the site. Public and emergency access to the beach would also be relocated to the eastern side.

The board was generally more favorable to this version of the “Completion Phase Project” than its last iteration, but still held firm over some of the objections members had in their initial review.

“The change you made in the views from the first rendition to this is monumental,” said board member Scott Branch.

Among the changes from the last version of the project are a switch to earth-toned structures that recede into the hillside from the earlier, relatively stark facade of cream-colored buildings intended to reflect the surrounding cliffs. The project applicants, in response to concerns about the public views, eliminated one of the 10 buildings and reconfigured two others to accommodate the loss in rooms, resulting in an overall decrease of one unit.

The building heights have also been reduced.

In response to previous concerns about the size and bulk of the parking structure, the applicants also reduced the size of the garage, resulting in 113 parking spaces, down from 132.

And while the DRB previously expressed concerns about the resort’s plans for vegetated roofs, saying they would need extensive maintenance and could pose fire hazards, Bacara planners persisted in their idea, modifying them so the vegetation would cover only portions of the roofs on the buildings closer to the coast.

“The dominant thought process was predominantly for those who would be viewing above and over the tops of those roofs, this would provide a more aesthetic experience,” said Tom Figg, representing Bacara.

While the board members were complimentary about the applicants’ efforts to comply with their suggestions, they still had reservations about Bacara’s request to allow modifications in the project’s height and setback from Hollister Avenue.

“I don’t think you’ve got a hardship here,” said Branch, referring to circumstances under which projects typically get approvals for modifications to building size and footprint. The project layout is dictated somewhat by archaeological resources in the area, and Chumash representatives have been working with planners to accommodate the project without damaging culturally important sites.

Concurrent with this effort are amendments to Goleta’s General Plan that would allow for the hotel condominiums in the city. Condo owners would occupy their units for a certain amount of time and for the remainder of the year the units would function as regular hotel rooms.

Other members were not so convinced that the modifications were enough.

“I’m still struggling with the style, to be really honest,” said board member Carl Schneider, who suggested an even more undulating roofline than what was proposed by the applicants.

Board chairman Bob Wignot was still uncomfortable with the overall look of the project.

“I don’t think there is a finding I can make with compatibility with the neighborhood,” he said. Other similar projects on the coast, he said, are generally smaller. And although the DRB’s jurisdiction does not include assessments of General Plan conformity, he said he had concerns about the number of amendments Bacara is proposing.

The board moved to continue its review to a tentative time of 4 p.m. April 14.

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